I have known Xander for many years, his Mum is my best friend and we spend lots of time together… special occasions, random get-togethers, days out, the normal stuff that friends and family do together. I, therefore have always known that Xander was awesome and destined for greatness.
To have witnessed this extraordinary person become who they are and then continue to watch them on their journey is actually an honour. And now being able to interview him for my blog is a privilege!
I imagine that life for a 16-year-old is a pretty stressful, confusing and turbulent time, if we add to that the fact that Xander is currently in the pre-transitional stages of gender re-assignment and coping daily with a condition known as ‘gender dysphoria’, then you have a recipe for a giant s**t storm of holy-f**k.
Gender dysphoria is when a person experiences distress or discomfort due to there being an imbalance between their biological sex and gender identity, this is more commonly known as being ‘transgender’.
Xander has been ‘out’ for over a year now and has mostly experienced a positive attitude from the people around him. He has a supportive network of family and friends, although there are a few family members who don’t yet know, this is mainly down to not being able to gauge their understanding of what being transgender means and finding a time to speak to them when Xander feels comfortable enough to do so.
He has currently been waiting for over 9 months for a letter from the Gender Identity Clinic, which will be the beginning of a lengthy and difficult process, including hormone replacement therapy, meetings, discussions, regular therapy, assessments and surgeries.
In this time Xander decided to create an Instagram account to document his progress and share the ups and downs. He wanted to, ‘create a place for people like me [him], to help them and inspire them so they know they’re not alone’.
Xander gave me a small insight into how he manages ‘the disconnect between the brain and the body’.
“So to alleviate it I bind my chest I wear jumpers and hoodies almost all the time, I cut my hair short and I got a completely new wardrobe. College is good because there are people who never knew my old name which makes it less likely that someone were to call me it and I now have a good group of supportive friends who always manage to help when they can.”
The support and understanding that Xander has received really does fill me with warm fuzzies, there is so much ignorance and stigma surrounding transgender, or anyone who others view as “different”. This world certainly needs more Xander’s in it and luckily he’s making waves across Instagram right now and giving people the encouragement and support they need to just be themselves.
“The whole reason I made my Instagram was to ensure that there was no one who felt the same way I did and that they had someone to talk to, as I didn’t know anyone else who was like me at the time and couldn’t really talk to anyone who “understood” and in such little time I’m amazed about how many people I’ve helped“
He has gained nearly 5,000 followers in only 4 months and he has parents, girlfriends and boyfriends of other transgender people asking for advice and guidance and although he’s no expert he is making sure he does his research so he is as educated as possible to deal with anything that is sent his way. This is also a learning curve for Xander too, he’s not been in this situation before and so by helping others he’s gaining something for himself also.
I would also like to give a special mention to Lucy, from Xander, who he says he couldn’t be more thankful for, for being so supportive, he couldn’t have done this without you.
Together they have set up a support group so that Lucy can speak to others who have trans partners, which to be honest, is one of the coolest things in the world!
I am genuinely beaming with pride to be so lucky to have this dude in my life. I love you Xander and you should be immensely proud of yourself. You know who you are, so own the s**t out of it 😉
There is a rather serious edge to this post, there’s an actual message (for once) and I want to share the existence of Xander with the world! He’s only 16 and is dealing with so much and to see him channel all of the stress that these unknown factors bring, into something good, is totally beautiful. Not only is he providing a safe place on Instagram for people to openly ask for help there will also be an abundance of people who follow him who might be too scared to speak up yet but to see someone be so open and honest about who they are will be more incredible than he can ever know.
As well as sharing this greatness with you, I also wanted to ask him some daft questions… So we did that too! And here they are…
1. Do you have a favourite pair of socks?
All my socks at the moment have something to do with Christmas but my favourites are the ones with little snowmen on.
2. I have an elephant for you, where will you hide it?!
Well, I’d probably hide it in one of the abandoned warehouses near my Dad’s house because no one goes down there and it’s sheltered.
3. What can you smell right now?
Honestly, all I can smell is fajitas, I had them for lunch.
4. The zombies are right outside your door, your weapon is whatever is to the left of you. What is it?
My weapon to fight off the Zombies is my bass guitar which isn’t a bad weapon I guess.
5. Death by Dalek or Cyberman?
Dalek because it seems far less painful and quicker, plus they’ve always been my favourite out of the two.
6. Is the answer to this question no?
The answer to this question is maybe, maybe it’s yes? maybe it’s no? will we ever know?
7. What would you like engraved on your tombstone…?
Hm probably “life is too short, smile whilst you still have teeth” because it encourages people to smile but in a humorous and spirit lifting way..pardon the pun.